“After all these years, you’d think I woulda learned something.”
“Who, me? No, never. You a moron.”
“Thank you. Always nice to kick a man down.”
He necked his drink, and John poured him another one.
“What is it this time heh? Is it politics? Favoritism? Society as a whole?” John asked.
“You delicate flower you.”
He grinned heavily, enjoying the situation. Over the past twenty years, they’d come to develop this sort of push-your-buttons relationship. But they never allowed anybody else to do it. I knew I couldn’t, so I kept to myself and to my seat and watched the whole scene. John grabbed another bottle and put it on the bar. Walt didn’t move an inch.
“So, girl trouble huh?”
Walt sighed loudly.
“How’d you know?” he said.
“You may not learn you lesson, but I learn how to read my clients. Especially those mopping my good whisky up.”
I took a sip from my gin tonic and opened my notebook. I generally avoid doing this, but sometimes life requires you to be bold. I should know, I’m never bold.
“There’s just something about her. Fuck … I don’t know.”
“There’s always something about them. That’s how we get trapped each and every damn time.”
“Is that so?”
“Been splitting the sheets my whole life, believe me when I tell you this – no woman is ever worth the trouble. The bottle, maybe. But the trouble, nah. Just forget it.”
“Forget it” Walt repeated. He necked another whisky.
John served him another, I counted five up until now.
“What if I can’t?” Walt asked.
“Then you’re in too deep already and there’s not much I or this bottle could do to help.”
“Basically nothing to do?”
“Basically nothing to do.”
They both sighed. And John went on :
“That’s love for you. Takes you up even when you don’t ask nothing, wrings you of anything you got, and leaves you like a corpse. I seen happen times and times again. Hell, I been through it too.”
I was jotting things down, rapid fire. Extricate yourself immediately, if not sooner. I drew circles and arrows and bolts. It all made no sense, but it was logical.
“How’s she like?”
Walt looked up, his eyes seemed transfixed. I thought the whisky was getting to him, finally. I had seen my fair share of drunkards back in the day, most of them were getting very chatty by the second one. He hadn’t say more than five words altogether. The light made him seem mopy, weepy even. I liked it. If I could draw better, I’d have drawn his face – sometimes pictures speak louder than words.
“She’s mad. But she’s magic.”
“Yeah yeah I know, cut the crap.”
And for the first time, they laughed. For some reason though, that peculiar moment gave the creeps – it wasn’t the usual laughing with your buddy type. No. This one was different. There was something heavy, deep, something that I was missing. I wrote – she’s mad but she’s magic. There’s no lie in her fire.
“She’s … I don’t know. She’s just special, that’s what she is.”
“Oh boy, you’d better buckle up.”
“And what does the old lady think about this?”
I almost dropped my pen at that, it made a huge stain on the page. I couldn’t care less. My ears were on the verge of exploding, I’d never thought eavesdropping was so intense, and yet there I was, excited to hear another man’s problems, his demise, his sadness and everything that comes with it. I felt guitly and yet loved every second of it. That’s the human nature. I can’t help it, he can’t either. He fell for the girl, I fell for the story. No shame in sharing.